Our apartment is found right across the Th? Nghè Canal from Saigon’s zoo, allowing us to watch giraffes and elephants from the balcony. So despite the fact that the zoo doesn’t have a sterling reputation, it was just a matter of time before we would be paying a visit to our new friends.
Prior expectations can really influence an experience. We showed up at the gates of Saigon’s zoo, fully aware that it was supposed to be poor. Aaaaaaand… it was. From any objective perspective, this is not a “good” zoo, in which joyful beasts romp around lush, spacious grounds that approximate their native homes. This is more the “sad” kind of zoo, in which forlorn animals are locked in concrete cages at least three sizes too small.
But that’s what we were expecting, so we weren’t disappointed. The zoo has a long history, being commissioned by the city’s French contingent in 1865. There are a number of exotic animals, including white Bengal tigers, lions and snakes which are several meters long. The majestic white tigers were our favorite, as they actually had a decent area in which to live. One was curled up right next to the glass, giving us a perfect opportunity to examine her features. When she lunged at us, suddenly swiping at the glass, we nearly screamed. (Make sure to check out our video, below, of this terrifying tiger attack!)
Another interesting animal was the Cambodian Sun Bear, although this little guy was totally pathetic. He had a big rotten tooth jutting out of his lower jaw, and apparently has come to associate “humans” with “food”. Upon seeing us, he approached the edge of his pit-cage and threw his arms up, thus beginning a heart-wrenching, miserable dance.
The zoo’s most common animal wasn’t the monkey, the peacock, nor the snake… but the rat. We spotted them in nearly every cage, scurrying about, stealing food, and darting back into their holes. I was disappointed in the monkeys, who didn’t even bother to defend their freshly delivered plate of bananas from the voracious beasts.
Along with the zoo, you can also visit the Botanical Gardens. But we didn’t spend too much time looking at the plants; with its abundant rains and tropical temperature, all of southern Vietnam feels like a giant garden. The island of An Binh, for example, makes for a more impressive (and natural) garden.
Given our apartment’s proximity to the place, it was inevitable that we’d be visiting. But unless you really love zoos or want the chance to see a Bengal tiger, it’s tough to recommend a specific trip here. The price is cheap, however, so if you’re already in the area, it might be worth taking a quick look.
-This is our favorite ZOO!